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Turkey’s local defense industry has successfully tested an armed, tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), industry and procurement officials said and added that the effort indicates an intention, at both corporate and government levels, to progress into serial production of drones with firepower.
“There is an understanding [between the industry and the government] that Turkey should gradually gear up to earn armed drone capabilities,” a procurement source said.
Defense World reports that the tactical UAV tested for armed flight is the Bayraktar produced jointly by two Turkish private companies, Baykar and Kale Kalip.
In its first armed flight test, the Bayraktar was equipped with the “mini smart ammunition” system developed by the state-controlled missile maker, Roketsan.
The company launched the system at the IDEF 2013 defense exhibition in Istanbul. The mini smart ammunition system has a range of eight kilometres.
Presently, the partnership of Baykar and Kale Kalip does not have a contract to supply the Turkish military with armed drones. But their future work may win a contract.
“We are assessing [their] work,” the procurement official said. “We may either sign a modification contract to arm the drones currently in our inventory or sign a separate contract to acquire armed drones in the future.”
In its first fully automatic flight test in 2014, the Bayraktar flew for three hours at an altitude of 18,750 feet. In a later test, the drone reached an altitude of 27,000 feet and flew for 6.5 hours. And in a final round of tests, the drone flew at an altitude of 18,000 feet for 24.5 hours.
The Bayraktar features indigenous software and electronic systems, according to the producer. Its maximum take-off payload is 650 kilograms.
Kale-Baykar boasts that, under the Bayraktar program, the consortium developed various critical systems in drone technology, including a flight control with three backup systems, inertial navigation and GPS systems, static pilot system, power control unit, a lithium-based smart battery, aerial data recording computer, video-link system, tail camera, ground-control station and command-and-control software.